My Name is Mina is the prequel to David Almond’s much acclaimed Skellig. As with all good prequels, you don’t have to have read Skellig first. I haven’t read Skellig. I saw it as a play. And Mina’s character was riveting – who wouldn’t like to spend a lot of time up in a tree?
My skin prickled with delight when the book turned up on the doorstep – a gift for Little M. But Little M laughed. Of all the characters in Skellig, Mina was her least favourite. “Mina just goes on and on about birds.” As a result, I was the one to read it first. And my task was to see if there’s more to Mina than birds. Well, of course there is…..
The novel is told in the first person through Mina’s journal. She’s angry, frustrated and confused about a lot of the changes going on in her young life. And it comes out beautifully in her journaling. A young girl, Mina writes a parallel account about past events that led to her home-schooling alongside current events that lead to the beginning of Skellig. Her journal includes different types of entries, one of my favourites being Extraordinary Activity, a must for all explorers of the world. Turn a page in My Name is Mina, and you’ll more than likely find a surprise.
Quite intentionally (you’ll know why towards the end of the novel), it lacks the narrative pace that adventure or dystopian novels often provide. But its exploration of the inner soul – that which novels can do best – is utterly sublime. Mina had me smiling, had me wondering, made me laugh, and I even had to wipe away a tear. Yes, she goes on and on about birds. But go along with her. See them as wings that will let you fly across the seven seas.
My name is not Mina – and I would love a tree like hers. And I would like to be her friend.
2010, Hodder Children’s Books, London